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I looked up to O'Connell and Heaslip growing up - Scotland prospect Ashe

The 21-year-old Scotland back row is excited to be facing the legendary Ireland captain tomorrow.

Murray Kinsella reports from Murrayfield

TOMORROW IS A big day in the burgeoning career of Scotland back row Adam Ashe, as he wins his fifth cap against Six Nations holders Ireland.

That title might not last through to Saturday night for Joe Schmidt’s side, and Ashe is firmly intent on ensuring that is the case. A despondent Scotland are desperate for their first win of this championship, and the Murrayfield crowd expects.

Jamie Heaslip and Paul O'Connell Ashe says Heaslip and O'Connell are two players he has looked up to. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

21-year-old Ashe is still in the opening stages of what looks like being a lengthy international career, but Ireland captain Paul O’Connell is much closer to the other end of the scale.

While the Munster lock has not yet confirmed when he will retire from Ireland duty, this may well be his final Six Nations game. Ashe laughs off the suggestion that Scotland would be glad to see the back of the 35-year-old.

“He’s a fantastic player, someone I’ve admired growing up watching him,” said Ashe at Murrayfield this afternoon. “This will be the first time I’ve actually got to play against him, so I’m really looking forward to that.

We won’t be glad to see the back of him, he’s been a fantastic player throughout his career and a player that I’ve always looked forward to playing against. I’m getting the opportunity to do it now, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The back row battle in Edinburgh promises to be fierce, particularly with Ashe’s physical strengths meaning the Scots have additional ball-carrying ballast in their loose forward trio.

Peter O’Mahony is Ashe’s direct opponent, but Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip are the more high-profile of Ireland’s back row in Scotland. Again, these are players that Glasgow Warriors man Ashe has looked to as inspirations.

Both Heaslip and O’Brien have had injury problems in recent times, but Ashe is expecting them to be at the perfect pitch in Murrayfield.

Adam Ashe Ashe came off the bench against England last time out, and now gets his first Six Nations start. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I think that’s going to help, they’ve had game time coming back from injury,” said Ashe.

“They’ve been playing well and they’re two fantastic players. Again, I’ve looked up to them in my career coming up through the ranks. I’m glad to be getting a shot to play against them. Two great players, they’ll be playing well.”

Scotland watched with interest as Schmidt’s side lost in Cardiff last weekend, a defeat that leaves them looking for lots of points tomorrow. Ashe’s focus is on what the Irish pack will confront himself and his teammates with.

It was a tough defeat for them and they’ll be looking to bounce back this week,” said Ashe. “Ireland have got a really strong pack of forwards, they’re direct and I think that’s an area they’re going to come at us this week.

“We’ve got to be prepared for that and we’re really looking forward to taking them on in that area. Obviously they want to get a lot of points on the board, so they’re going to come hard in the forwards.

“They like to carry the ball, they’ve got a lot of lot of physical ball carriers there. They’re going to want to get those points, so we need to front up and be disciplined.”

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Murray Kinsella

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